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November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month. Lung cancer is the second most common cancer and is known as the leading cause of cancer deaths in men and women worldwide. In 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that  218,500 people are affected by lung cancer annually in the United States. Out of these, about 65% succumb to the disease.


Cigarette smoking causes 80-90% of lung cancer deaths. To reduce the risk of getting lung cancer, don’t smoke or vape. To further decrease your risk of lung cancer,  avoid second-hand smoke and known carcinogens such as asbestos and benzene (found in petroleum products). Air pollution, radiation treatments, and a family history of lung cancer are other possible risk factors


Toxic chemicals found in vaping products can lead to increased risk of lung cancer, and vaping itself can cause individuals who wouldn’t otherwise smoke to become addicted to nicotine. Young people who vape are more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future. 


Early detection of lung cancer is key for increasing survival rates. In 2021, the American Lung Association released a report showing that Hawai’i is last in the nation for early detection. In June of this year, the Hawai‘i legislature passed bill 3367 to establish a lung cancer screening task force to address this issue.


A low-dose CT (computerized tomography) scan is recommended as the most effective screening tool for those at high risk for lung cancer. To be considered high risk, you must be between the ages of 55-80, have a 30-pack-year history (smoking one pack per day for 30 years or two packs per day for 15 years), and are a current smoker or have quit within the last 15 years. According to the American Lung Association, 25,000 lives could be saved if all Americans who are considered high-risk are screened.


Since 1996, Hawai’i Public Health Institute’s (HIPHI) Coalition for a Tobacco-Free Hawai‘i has been leading efforts to reduce the incidence of cigarette smoking in Hawai‘i. The coalition has been working to advocate for laws to protect residents from second-hand smoke and to protect our keiki from tobacco use. To learn more about living tobacco-free in Hawai‘i visit


If you’re wondering what action you can take to spread lung cancer awareness, raise money for lung cancer research, and encourage lung cancer prevention, visit these additional sites: 


  • Join the American Lung Association’s LUNG FORCE and take action by joining a campaign or sharing your story.
  • The Lung Cancer Foundation of America suggests  seven  ways that you can raise awareness and raise funding for lung cancer research.
  • The American Association for Cancer Research presents ways that you can get involved from fun runs to volunteering to donating.
  • Don’t be shy about sharing life-saving information about lung cancer risks, prevention, and early screening on your social media sites, use #LungCancerAwarenessMonth.


Written by Amy Hebenstreit, MBA, BS, RN, CCRN

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